Image of OP Editor.By Alison Werner

We all know the old adage, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” And we’ve all heard the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” Given the information overload we’re subjected to every day, those can seem like attractive notions. However, let’s be honest. In today’s data-driven business world, we know they are quite foolish ideas to subscribe to. While we just want to focus on the job at hand—whether, in my case, putting together our magazine every month or, in your case, helping improve a patient’s smile—we have to get into the minutiae. We have to understand the data behind what we do if we’re to keep doing it and do it better.

The Digital Age offers us numerous tools and a plethora of data that can help us make choices about how we run our businesses. An online reader survey can tell me how you get your industry news and what topics you want to read more about. A website analytics tool can tell both of us who our sites are reaching, how those visitors are finding our sites, and whether or not the site is engaging them. The latest practice-management software can tell you how your practice is performing and how it stacks up against the competition. While understanding what all this data means and how to use it is daunting, it is vital. It’s what allows us to survive in a competitive marketplace. And as Marla Merritt, director of sales and marketing for OrthoBanc, points out in our March 2013 Industry Insider, “You can only improve your position by first knowing where you stand.”

But if we truly want this information to be useful, we have to take the time to reflect on what it is really telling us; and the reality is that taking that next step isn’t always intuitive. In her article on the role Google Analytics can play in your practice’s Internet marketing efforts, Mary Kay Miller writes that while a practice will go to the trouble of setting up an analytics tool to monitor their website, “they often fail to dig into the data, thus missing the golden opportunities to optimize their site.” And that’s the catch. Data is just data until we analyze it, until we take a step back and ask the question, “What does this mean for my business?” It’s easy to get caught up with the numbers—to focus on how many visitors our site got this week or how we ranked against competitors last month. But to make the data useful, we have to take the time to look at what we’re doing and how we got there.

You will notice in the pages of our magazine and on our website, Orthodontic Products has been undergoing a number of changes. The goal behind each change is to improve the product and your experience as a reader. Throughout the process, I’m paying attention to what the data and your feedback tell me. Because, in the end, knowing this information allows me to better serve you and your practice.


Alison Werner is the chief editor of Orthodontic Products. She can be contacted at [email protected].